Home > Turned (The Vampire Journals #1)(4)

Turned (The Vampire Journals #1)(4)
Author: Morgan Rice

Most of all, if he had a girlfriend. Someone like him had to be dating someone.

Just at that moment, a pretty, well-dressed Hispanic girl brushed by Caitlin. Caitlin looked her up and down as she passed, and wondered for a second if it was her.

Caitlin turned down 134th street, and for a second, forgot where she was going. She’d never walked home from school before, and for a moment, she blanked on where her new apartment was. She stood there on the corner, disoriented. A cloud covered the sun and a strong wind picked up, and she suddenly felt cold again.

“Hey, amiga!”

Caitlin turned, and realized she was standing in front of a filthy, corner bodega. Four seedy men sat in plastic chairs before it, seemingly oblivious to the cold, grinning at her as if she were their next meal.

“Come over here, baby!” yelled another.

She remembered.

132nd street. That’s it.

She quickly turned and walked at a brisk pace down another side street. She checked over her shoulder a few times to see if those men were following her. Luckily, they weren’t.

The cold wind stung her cheeks and woke her up, as the harsh reality of her new neighborhood started to sink in. She looked around at the abandoned cars, the graffitied walls, the barbed-wire, the bars on all the windows, and she suddenly felt very alone. And very afraid.

It was only 3 more blocks to her apartment, but it felt like a lifetime away. She wished she had a friend at her side—even better, Jonah—and she wondered if she could manage this walk alone every day. Once again, she felt angry at her Mom. How could she keep moving her, keep putting her in new places that she hated? When would it ever end?

Broken glass.

Caitlin’s heart beat faster as she saw some activity up on the left, on the other side of the street. She walked quickly and tried to keep her head down, but as she got closer, she heard yells and grotesque laughter, and she couldn’t help but notice what was going on.

Four huge kids—18 or 19, maybe—stood standing over another kid. Two of them held his arms, while the third stepped in and punched him in the gut, and the fourth stepped up and punched him in the face. The kid, maybe 17, tall, thin and defenseless, fell to the ground. Two of the boys stepped up and kicked him in the face.

Despite herself, Caitlin stopped and stared. She was horrified. She had never seen anything like it.

The other two kids took a few steps around their victim, then raised their boots high and brought them down.

Caitlin was afraid they were going to stomp the kid to death.

“NO!” she screamed.

There was a sick crunching sound as they brought their feet down.

But it wasn’t the sound of broken bone—rather, it was the sound of wood. Crunching wood. Caitlin saw that they were stomping a small, musical instrument. She looked closely, and saw bits and pieces of a viola all over the sidewalk.

She raised her hand to her mouth in horror.

“Jonah!?”

Without thinking, Caitlin crossed the street, right to the pack of guys, who had by now begun to notice her. They looked at her and their evil smiles broadened as they elbowed each other.

She walked right up to the victim and saw that it was indeed Jonah. His face was bleeding and bruised, and he was unconscious.

She looked up at the pack of kids, her anger overpowering her fear, and stood between Jonah and them.

“Leave him alone!” she shouted to the group.

The kid in the middle, at least six-four, muscular, laughed back.

“Or what?” he asked, his voice very deep.

Caitlin felt the world rush by her, and realized that she’d just been shoved hard from behind. She raised her elbows as she hit the concrete, but that barely cushioned her fall. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see her journal go flying, its loose papers spreading everywhere.

She heard laughter. And then footsteps, coming at her.

Heart pounding in her chest, her adrenaline kicked in. She managed to roll and scramble to her feet just before they reached her. She took off at a sprint down the alleyway, running for her life.

They followed close behind.

At one of her many schools, back when Caitlin thought she would have a long future somewhere, she took up Track, and realized she was good at it. The best on the team, actually. Not in long-distance, but in the 100 yard sprint. She could even outrun most of the guys. And now, it came flooding back to her.

She ran for her life, and the guys couldn’t catch her.

Caitlin glanced back and saw how far behind they were, and felt optimistic that she could outrun them all. She just had to make the right turns.

The alleyway ended in a T, and she could either turn left or right. She wouldn’t have time to change her decision if she wanted to maintain her lead, and she’d have to choose quick. She couldn’t see what was around each corner, though. Blindly, she turned left.

She prayed it was the right choice. Come on. Please!

Her heart stopped as she made a sharp left and saw the dead end before her.

Wrong move.

A dead end. She ran right up to the wall, scanning for an exit, any exit. Realizing there was none, she turned to face her approaching attackers.

Out of breath, she watched them turn the corner and approach. She could see over their shoulders that if she had turned right, she would have been home free. Of course. Just her luck.

“All right, bitch,” one of them said, “you’re gonna suffer now.”

Realizing she had no way out, they walked slowly towards her, breathing hard, grinning, and relishing the violence to come.

Caitlin closed her eyes and breathed deep. She tried to will Jonah to wake up, to appear around the corner, awake and all-powerful, ready to save her. But she opened her eyes and he wasn’t there. Only her attackers. Getting closer.

She thought of her Mom, of how she hated her, of all the places she’d been forced to live. She thought of her brother Sam. She thought of what her life would be like after this day.

She thought of her whole life, of how she’d always been treated, of how no one understood her, of how nothing ever went her way. And something clicked. Somehow, she had had enough.

I don’t deserve this. I DON’T deserve this!

And then, suddenly, she felt it.

It was a wave, something unlike anything she had ever experienced. It was a wave of rage, flooding through her, flushing her blood. It centered in her stomach, and spread from there. She could feel her feet rooted to the ground, as if she and the concrete were one, and could then feel a primal strength overcome her, course through her wrists, up her arms, into her shoulders.

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